SafeScript use in general practice: A case study  

  26 April 2019  NWMPHN   |   Third party content – view disclaimer

SafeScript, real-time prescription monitoring, is now available to all GPs, other prescribers and pharmacists in Victoria. This clinical tool gives GPs and pharmacists access to up-to-the minute information about your patient’s prescription history (prescribed and dispensed) for selected high-risk medicines. 

In just six months, SafeScript has alerted health professionals at more than 400 sites across Western Victoria (the initial study area) to around 4,500 patients at risk of harm of overdose. 

Dr Jeannie Knapp, from Church Street Medical Centre, has been using SafeScript for a couple of months now. She shares one of her experiences with SafeScript below. 

Kate (37, not her real name), a flight attendant, sees me a few times a yearThese visits are usually to review and prescribe her oral contraceptive pill and for the treatment of the occasional urinary tract infection (UTI)She presented to me last week requesting a prescription for zolpidem. Kate had been finding it difficult to sleep due to her work. After conducting a thorough clinical assessment, I initially agreed to her request.

However, as I typed zolpidem into my clinical software, a red pop-up notification appeared (you can set this up by going to the health.vic website).

mentioned to Kate that I needed to check her history and clicked on the red notification which took me to her SafeScript recordIn the record, there was an alert showing that Kate had received zolpidem from four other prescribers within the last 90 days. This surprised both Kate and I! 

At first Kate was defensive; she had opted out of My Health Record. However, I gently explained to her that SafeScript is a standalone system and that her consent was not required to access it. This was because I was providing care to her in the context of the medicines that are monitored. Kate was still annoyed. HoweverI reinforced that my focus was on her safety and that I was concerned she was at risk of overdosingKate was astounded when I told her that the number of overdose deaths in Victoria involving pharmaceutical medicines is higher than the number of overdose deaths involving illicit drugs and, since 2012, has exceeded the road toll. 

Kate then burst into tears and explained that she hadn’t sleep well for monthsTogether Kate and I came to the agreement that yes, I would prescribe zolpidem. But, only under the following arrangement: 

  • we would taper her dose  
  • she would only get zolpidem from the one prescriber (me) 
  • she would only have zolpidem dispensed at the one pharmacy with staged supply  
  • she would contact Reconnexion (1300 273 266) for free counselling. 

SafeScript will be mandatory from April 2020. It is easy to register for and use. You can set pop-up alerts in most clinical softwareAdditionally, you can also review your active schedule 8 permits. 

SafeScript training 

Disclaimer: This article was provided by NWMPHN. While every effort has been made to ensure the information is accurate, North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network does not warrant or represent the accuracy, currency and completeness of any information or material included within.